By: E.K. Johnston
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: March 2015
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: May 1, 2015
Siobhan McQuaid's life had so changed since they burned down Manitoulin Island. The dragon-fire burns had taken not just her hands, but her music. It pained her so much at times it was almost unbearable. Siobhan had been a musical prodigy and it seemed like everything had been lost to outsiders, but she sang the Manitoulin song on YouTube. She was now known simply as the "Burned Bard." Siobhan would let the world know what the youngest dragon slayers of the world could do. The "carbon-emission eating dragons" were their prey. It had been a mighty battle and Owen Thorskard claimed "we did kind of destroy the ecosystem of the world's largest island last spring." That they had done.
It was time for Siobhan, Owen, and his girlfriend, Sadie Fletcher, to move forward after high school. The story of the legendary dragon fight was behind them and they had all enlisted in the Oil Watch. Basic Training would demand much of them, but without the use of her hands it would be difficult. Siobhan was going along as Owen's bard, continuing to tell his story to the world. She would sing of his deeds, past and present, recording with her voice, weaving the tale of Owen and the "underage dragon slayers" in song. Siobhan and Owen had a telepathic bond that would continue on in their service to a country, one that wasn't particularly thrilled to have them on board.
Everyone was anxious to find out their new assignment, but being tossed into the wilds of Fort Calgary, Alberta was little more than a slap in the face, a punishment. It was "by tradition, each squad was called after its dragon slayer" and so they would be known as Squad Thoskard. Lieutenant Commander Declan Porter would guide them along with Kaori Yamamoto and Nick Crawford. The Japanese and Americans would help them learn new things, but General Henry Octavian Speed thought little of the trio. They began to learn more about Canadian dragons, as if they didn't know already. The Grand Prairie awaited them and Siobhan would soon make her call with a bugle held in her useless hands. A battle would soon begin, but what would be the fate of the young dragon slayers? Would Siobhan live to sing another tale?
This is the much anticipated sequel to The Story of Owen readers will love. This is an alternate history in a world full of carbon-eating emission dragons that are swooping down into towns, destroying them. Around the globe young dragon slayers learn to do battle and are sharing their methods with Owen and Siobhan. There's also the hint of racism that also must be conquered when it's discovered that Filipinos are being used. New characters have been introduced, including Peter and his people who "don't slay indiscriminately." This is not a stand-alone fantasy, but one that should be read after The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, a tale that stands out from the pack.
Quill says: As in the first book, E. K. Johnston brilliantly portrays a darkened world, filled with dragons, including the most horrific of them all, the legendary Chinook.